SEATTLE — Washington coach Steve Sarkisian sat down for his weekly news conference and rubbed his hands together excitedly, as if using sticks to spark a campfire.
“What a cool week for the Huskies, man,” he said in his opening remarks Monday.
It’s a week five years in the making.
The No. 15 Huskies are 4-0, feeling good and appear to be heating up at just the right time entering their showdown Saturday at No. 5 Stanford (4-0).
“I go into team meetings on Monday mornings now and I don’t feel like I have to pump up the team or pump up the game,” Sarkisian said. “I think we have a unique, quiet confidence about us.”
Sarkisian and the Huskies have talked often the past few weeks about how different this football team is, and about how important is the belief these players have in themselves, each other and “the process,” as Sarkisian has said repeatedly.
“This is the best it’s ever been for us,” he said.
Sarkisian doesn’t want players feeling too good about themselves, though. Which is why he asked the team’s only fifth-year seniors — quarterback Keith Price and safety Will Shamburger — to address the team Monday about where the program was when Sarkisian arrived in 2009, and how far it’s come.
“Sometimes you get to these games as a player and you feel like, ‘Well, we’ve arrived — we’ve made it,’ because we’re on a nationally televised game against a top-five opponent,” Sarkisian said. “… I wanted to send a little reminder of where we started and the hard work that’s been put into this to get to this point. And that hard work is what’s going to be what gets us beyond this point.
“I didn’t want to lose sight of that.”
Graduate-assistant coach D’Andre Goodwin, a former UW receiver, also spoke to the team. He was part of the squad that went 0-12 in Tyrone Willingham’s final season in 2008.
“I really feel like we’ve built this program the right way, and we’ve come a long, long way to get to this point,” Sarkisian said. “In everybody’s eyes, this is a really ‘big game’ for us Saturday night, but the reality of it is we’re not going to change. We’re going to prepare the way we prepare and we’re going to embrace the process and embrace the opportunity and we’re going to have fun doing it.”
Sarkisian knocked on the table in front of him when he was asked about the team’s relatively good health.
Linebacker John Timu sat out one game, against Idaho State, with a strained shoulder, and is the only regular who has missed any significant time with an injury in the first month of the season.
“We’re in excellent condition as a football team,” Sarkisian said. “I think it shows. It showed Saturday night again in the second half (of the victory over Arizona). I think our conditioning is phenomenal right now. We just haven’t had any of the big injuries, so hopefully we can stay that way.”
Afternoon kickoff vs. Ducks
The Oregon-Washington game will kick off at Husky Stadium at 1 p.m. on Oct. 12 for a Fox Sports 1 national broadcast, it was announced Monday morning.
If the Huskies and Ducks both win this week, ESPN’s “College GameDay” show is expected to visit Seattle for the first time next week.